Republic of the Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation positioned in the Indian Ocean. Notably the South Asian Island nation has no counterpart in the entire world in terms of its unique geography and topography.
The Maldives comprises of 26 natural atolls consisting of dual island chains. Incidentally the Maldivian language has the distinct pleasure of contributing to the English word “atoll”, which was derived from the Maldivian word “atholhu”.
There are channels of various sizes between the atolls used for navigation. For efficient administrative functioning, the 26 natural atolls are categorized into 20 administrative divisions. Particularly the island nation is located in a strategic area with access to major international sea routes in the Indian Ocean.
The Maldives, located on top of a vast underwater mountain range have around 1190 islands and sandbanks. The pearl string like islands covers a land area of no less than 298 km2. All the islands are encircled by a lagoon blessed with crystal clear water. These islands are protected by a reef structure, housing one of the most exclusive and spectacular underwater life.
Maldivians are esteemed around the World for their hospitality and affability towards their guests. Currently the population of the Maldives is about 350,000. Additionally close to 60000 registered foreigners reside in the country.
Maldivians share a similar cultural heritage, history, ancestry, homeland, language and religion. These common factors are the reason for the unity and harmony prevailing in the alluring islands.
Maldivian ancestral roots can be traced back to Sinhala’s of Sri Lanka, Marathi’s and Guajarati’s of India, Arabs, Malays and Northern African dispositions. Accordingly, Maldivians emerged from a mixed race, which has enriched the culture and history of the country.
Presently Maldivians are adherents of the Sunni School of Islam. Maldivians embraced Islam in 1153 AD and since then the religion has played a key role in shaping the Maldivian society. Some of the famous landmarks in the country have been greatly influenced by Islamic architecture.
Before converting to Islam, the Maldivians were known to practice Buddhism and ancient paganism. Ancient Buddhist ruins are preserved in the country and antique Buddhist artefacts are displayed in the National Museum in Male’.
Traditionally whenever guests visit a local island, the islanders will welcome them by serving a fresh coconut drink. This tradition has continued to this day and do not be surprised if your resort offers a beautifully decorated coconut drink when you reach your destination!
The customs and social behavior of the Maldivians have been greatly influenced by the Indians, Sri Lankans, Arabs and North Africans who visited the Maldives while traversing through the trading routes of the central Indian Ocean. The Maldivian culture is rich and vibrant due to the infusion of various other cultural elements.
Though Maldives was culturally influenced by other traditions, Maldivians have built and preserved an exclusive cultural identity.
Accordingly the Maldivians converse using a language of their own; In 1153 AD Maldivians converted to Islam and the religion has transformed and introduced new fundamentals to the Maldivian culture.
The Maldives boasts of a rich culture of music and dance. Some of the cultural music and dances can trace their roots to distant continents. Resort islands organize cultural performances to entertain their guests regularly during which you can observe islanders performing traditional music and dance items. One of the most famous Maldivian cultural displays which involve singing and dancing is called the “Bodu Beru”. The Bodu Beru performers, numbering around 20 will be wearing traditional garb of sarongs and white sleeved shirts. Bodu Beru performance is guaranteed to make you sway along with the drumbeats. Other traditional music and dance items include; Dhandi Jehun, Langiri, Thaara and Gaa Odi Lava. Most of these items involve rhythmic music and dances using various cultural props. There are some cultural routines exclusively performed by Maldivian women. Bandiyaa jehun, Maafathi Neshun and Bolimalaafath Neshun. Some of these acts were designed to perform in the royal courts. Indian and Western music have also greatly influenced the musicians of the country. Frequently resorts host performances of local bands to enliven their guests.
Maldivians are known for being avid craftsmen. The intricate stone carvings found in the Friday Mosque in Male’ is a living example of Maldivian craftsmanship. The mastery and inventiveness of Maldivians can be seen in lacquer works, mat weaving, coir rope making and calligraphy. Traditional dresses and ornaments profess the artistry and creativeness of Maldivian artisans. Such exceptional works can be acquired by visitors as souvenirs. A visit to the Maldives not only guarantees the best vacation of your lifetime, but it also gives you exposure to a great cultural experience.